2008 NBA Draft Mockery : Pissing in the Punchbowl

We kid about the proliferation of mock drafts, an offcourt exercise that increasingly seems to get more attention than anything that actually unfolds oncourt, but the truth is we love them.  We love their fluid nature, the prognostication based on whispers and outright lies, the inconsistencies, the way futures of both teams and players can both be treated like a boardgame.  Mostly, though, the growing popularity of the draft as spectator sport is based solely on one universal quality of sports fandom – hope.

 

Idealism and prophecy.  Greil Marcus wrote an entire book in which he postulated that these two are inextricably tied to what defines America.  If that is the case, then perhaps nothing serves as a better microcosm of that theory than the mock draft.  Fans of every NBA team practice the greatest, often most illogical, levels of idealism.  It marks the only time of year that Grizzlies fans actually have hope.  The prophecy that is the mock draft offers realization of that idealism for those who make the right choice and doom for those who do not.  The problem is, it’s mostly delusional.

  

The truth is that no single player has impacted the playoff fortunes of their teams since Deron Williams and Chris Paul, and even the fortunes of those two teams did not turn until their sophomore campaigns.  I guess you could say that Dwight Howard single-handedly turned the Magic into a playoff team, though without some significant help he can continue to make vacation plans for the third week of the playoffs.  Really no draft since 2003 has itself made a team into a legitimate contender, and really that was only Lebron.  Wade needed a second option (Shaq) and Melo looks like he’ll need a third (I also should mention that Darko, Mike Sweetney, and Jarvis Hayes went in the top 10 that year.)

 

The NBA draft deals in instant gratification, but history tells us it won’t come for a few more years.  Outside of the homegrown Spurs, every other title contender relied primarily on trades to reach that status.  This year’s fortunes will likely be aided by this year’s draft machinations only for teams that are already close.  The Warriors, taking their 48 wins into the lottery, are a good candidate (Though with the trade exception and Nellie’s disdain for anyone under the age of 28, a trade is likely.)  The Heat, just a couple of years removed from a title and with a potentially frightening trio (if they’re not stupid) of Wade, Marion, and Beasley, are another.  If you’re buying season tickets in Memphis, however, to get a jump on the playoffs, simply because Eric Gordon could put up 20 a night, you’re probably going to end up very disappointed.  But you’re probably used to that by now. 

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